All posts by CHOC Children's

Dr. Heidi Stephany Joins CHOC Children’s Urology Team

CHOC Children’s urology program, ranked one of the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report, has grown with the addition of Dr. Heidi Stephany.   A fellowship- trained pediatric specialist Dr. Stephany most recently served as assistant clinical director for the division of pediatric urology at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center), where she was also an assistant professor.

Dr. Heidi Stephany, pediatric urologist
Dr. Heidi Stephany

“The pediatric program at CHOC is a distinguished specialty with a solid reputation. I was drawn to work alongside such remarkable physicians, including Dr. Antoine Khoury, who is world-renowned in the field of pediatric urology,” says Dr. Stephany. “I was also attracted to the opportunity to help educate and train residents and fellows, in addition to working on challenging patient cases.”

Dr. Stephany’s clinical interests include complex reconstructive surgery, specifically hypospadias and disorders of sexual differentiation. Her clinical outcomes research is focused on voiding dysfunction.  She hopes to develop a combined urology/gastroenterology clinic for patients suffering from the condition.

A desire to solve problems and help others sparked, during her high school years, Dr. Stephany’s interest in surgery. After shadowing a urologist at the start of medical school, she knew urology—offering the perfect mix of medicine and surgery— was the specialty for her. She was intrigued by the wide array of complex issues and procedures within the specialty.

Working with children is particularly fulfilling for Dr. Stephany.

“In pediatrics, we have the opportunity to identify, address and achieve positive outcomes that will have a lasting impact on our patients’ lives,” she explains.

Since joining CHOC, Dr. Stephany has enjoyed immediate camaraderie with her colleagues and the team approach to care, which she says extends beyond her specialty and benefits patients. “It makes working here a truly fulfilling experience,” she adds.

Dr. Stephany is dedicated to treating patients like her own family members, and communicating complex issues in a compassionate way that is easily understood. She looks forward to becoming an integral part of the medical community in Southern California.

“I am excited to be here and want to be a resource for serving children in the area who need our care. I pride myself on being approachable and am eager to work collaboratively with local pediatricians,” says Dr. Stephany.

For physician referrals to Dr. Stephany, call 888-770-2462.

Five Tips to Help Doctors De-Stress

By Dr. Carla Weis

 As physicians, we put the health and well-being of others before our own.   The passion to help others is what inspired us to pursue the journey into modern medicine. Noble work? Absolutely. Work that justifies destroying our own physical health and perhaps soul? No.

Dr. Carla Weis, board-certified neonatologist and member of CHOC Children’s Specialists.

How can we truly serve others, if we don’t take care of ourselves? Put your own oxygen mask on first, right? For most healthcare professionals, this is easier said than done. But I ask you, how can we be fully present for our patients’ healing and provide them with the best possible outcomes, if we ignore our own spirit and soul?

The answer is quite simple: “Physician, health thyself.” How? First, examine yourself and how you live. It’s hard to take this first step, however, when we feel so much stress. In fact, we often accept stress as a way of life. It doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few tips to find relief from stress.

  1. De-clutter

De-cluttering is often touted as an important step in de-stressing, and in fact, it is a huge part of facilitating a greater sense of inner peace. Make a commitment to yourself that over the course of several months you will get rid of all that stuff in your home that doesn’t add joy to your life.  Consider renting a large bin or dumpster, have it delivered to your driveway or the front of your house, and just start tossing stuff.  You’ll be amazed at how fast it fills up and how much of a difference there is in your sense of calmness and inner peace.  A good rule of thumb is to keep only what you need or love.  We keep so many things that are simply carrying an emotional attachment for us, but are unnecessary and drag us down on many levels.

I highly recommend reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

2.  Meditation

Meditation is one of those things we know would be good to do, and maybe even recommend it to our patients, but it will always hold the lowest position on our list of priorities. Why is that?  Well, we just don’t have the time, of course.  That’s the funny thing about meditating.  It takes time and that’s exactly what we don’t have enough of!

Years ago, I joined a gym and took advantage of the free consultation with a personal trainer. She asked me what my fitness goals were. I thought about how uncomfortable it was to do cardio and I wanted to be more comfortable with cardio.   I said, “I’d like to be more fit on a cardiovascular level.” She said, “Ok, add 20 minutes of cardio training to every workout.”

I was silently aghast. I didn’t say I wanted to do more cardio.  I just wanted to be better at it.  And so, I learned a very poignant lesson. The only way to become better or more comfortable at doing something is to do more of it.  If you would like to have more inner peace in your life, more quiet time, guess what? You must bring more inner peace and quiet time into your life.

Start with just five or 10 minutes a day. Find a time that works best for you.  For me, it’s first thing in the morning before I’m even really awake.  For others, it’s at night before sleep.  And for some, it’s both.  You choose.  Just set the timer on your phone and sit quietly with your eyes closed, focusing on your breath and relaxing your body with each breath.  Bring your attention to your body inwardly.  It’s useful to simply practice the art of noticing any distracting thoughts as they come in and then bringing your attention back to your breath and the present.  You may find that this is the best part of your day!

3. Love yourself more

We take care of others, but how good are we at taking care of ourselves? Pay attention to the inner dialogue within your mind as you go about your day.  Do you talk nicely to yourself?  Often, we speak quite harshly to ourselves and aren’t even aware of it.  Take moments during the day to be aware of your inner dialogue and then redirect the way you speak to yourself in your mind.  Re-train yourself to talk lovingly to and supportive of yourself.  Realize that the most important person to give and show your love to, is yourself.  From there, you will have so much more love to share with others. “Physician, heal thyself!”

4. Invest in a stress -reduction program

Invest in a stress reduction program. I highly recommend receiving a stress-reducing modality called a Life Activation, where you will receive a greater connection to your spirit within.

5. Bring spirituality into your life

What does this really mean? Are we talking about God?  Religion? A higher power?  Don’t we often think of spirituality as something for mystics and philosophy buffs to ponder?

Spirituality gets lumped into those areas of our lives that we’d love to pay more attention to at some point — when we have more time. When is that?  No doubt, life is busy.  But the truth about spirituality is that it’s part of who we are.  It’s not about worshipping a God in the sky or giving our power away to any religious figure.   Maybe it’s something we’ve allocated only to one day a week.  And, of course, as physicians, we often work on that day, so we get a pass from spirituality, right?

I suggest starting to explore what spirituality means to you. There’s no right answer and in fact, the answers are infinite!  Because we are infinite!

Dr. Carla Weis is a board-certified neonatologist and member of CHOC Children’s Specialists. She practices primarily in the neonatal intensive care unit at Hoag Hospital Newport Beach.  She received her medical degree from Temple University in Philadelphia, and completed her fellowship in neonatal-perinatal medicine at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).  Her metaphysical/spiritual training has been with the Modern Mystery School, International.  Her primary focus is supporting healthcare workers to find balance in their lives, and guiding others to explore life concepts including and beyond the physical. 

Continue to follow the blog for more helpful tips from Dr. Weis.

Join Us for CHOC’s Inaugural Complex Feeding Disorders Conference, Jan. 19-20

Disordered feeding among children with food allergies and eosinophilic esophagitis; avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder; and motivational interviewing to improve parental learning are just some of the topics being covered at “Optimizing Feeding Outcomes – An Advanced Course in Managing Complex Pediatric Feeding Disorders,” hosted by CHOC Children’s on January 19-20, 2018, at the Newport Beach Marriott Resort.

The anticipated event, featuring CHOC’s multidisciplinary faculty and nationally recognized leaders, including Mitchell Katz, medical director, gastroenterology and CHOC’s Multidisciplinary Feeding Program, and keynote speaker Evan Kleiman, radio host of Good Food, is open to pediatricians, gastroenterologists, family practice physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, clinical psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, registered dieticians, and others who care for children with feeding challenges.

CHOC Children's Multidisciplinary Feeding Program

“The conference is a great opportunity for us to share nationally and internationally our experience in assessing and treating children with complex feeding disorders,” Dr. Katz says. “We have a responsibility to our community to be educators, in addition to our roles as medical providers.”

CHOC’s Multidisciplinary Feeding Program — the only one of its kind on the West Coast — offers a positive, holistic approach to feeding disorders and receives referrals from throughout the country.

After the conference participants will be able to:

  • Follow suggested best practice model for treatment of pediatric feeding disorders and gastrostomy tube weaning.
  • Advocate for developing an effective multidisciplinary team to improve outcomes for children with feeding difficulties and gastrostomy tube dependence.
  • Apply specific behavioral feeding strategies to improve a child’s interaction with and intake of food.
  • Follow nutritional intervention strategies to improve nutrient balance, increase caloric intake and optimize growth and development of children with restrictive diets.
  • Coach parents on strategies and techniques to improve the parent‐child feeding relationship.

To register for Optimizing Feeding Outcomes – An Advanced Course in Managing Complex Pediatric Feeding Disorders visit CHOC’s website. Early bird fee registration deadline is Dec. 15.

This activity has been approved AMA PRA Category 1 Credit TM

CHOC Heart Patients Among First to Experience Clinic of the Future

A pilot program at CHOC Children’s is giving cardiac patients and their families more peace of mind. Launched by pediatric cardiologist and CHOC’s chief intelligence and innovation officer Dr. Anthony Chang, the CHiP (Cardiopulmonary Health intelligence Program) clinic provides home monitoring equipment to families for the purpose of tracking patients’ vitals, such as blood pressure and oxygen saturation. Through telepresence, families can also connect with their physicians without leaving their homes.

Dr. Anthony Chang
Dr. Anthony Chang, pediatric cardiologist and chief intelligence and innovation officer at CHOC Children’s

“Patients and families feel more comfortable outside the clinical setting. But when away from the hospital, parents can feel very anxious about their children’s health and well-being,” explains Dr. Chang. “Our CHiP clinic ensures continuity of care, while providing great comfort to parents who know they can connect with their physicians without visiting their offices.”

CHiP is based on another innovative idea from Dr. Chang: the iClinic. According to Dr. Chang, the iClinic is a philosophy of leveraging emerging technologies to help create efficiencies, improve workflow and the continuity of care for patients by bringing CHOC expertise to patients’ homes.  The ultimate goal is improving quality care and positive outcomes for patients.

CHOC Children's Heart Institute

There are five key components of the iClinic, all starting with the letter “I”:

  • Instantaneous – Instead of periodic measurements at home, monitoring devices can measure at any time.
  • Intermittent – Instead of being limited to scheduled visits, virtual visits can happen at any time. These virtual visits can include educational sessions, in addition to wellness checks.
  • Individual therapy – Precision medicine is built into the iClinic, including genomics and pharmacogenomics, to find the medicine or treatment best suited for the patient.
  • Intelligent data-driven medicine – All data is compiled and analyzed to make the best possible decisions, including personalized medicine and drug discovery.
  • Intuitive interactions – Through telepresence and the ability to provide instantaneous data with feedback, the iClinic contributes to an experience that feels authentic and intuitive.

Dr. Chang envisions rolling the “clinic of the future” to other specialties at CHOC, beyond CHiP.

“This is the clinic of the future. It is inclusive of wearable devices, avatars, artificial intelligence and genomic medicine. But it’s important to note we’re not using the technology for the sake of just using fancy gadgets.  We are leveraging emerging technologies to really change how we deliver care in the best possible way,” explains Dr. Chang.

Providers who are interested in piloting a similar program at their institutions are free to contact Dr. Chang at achang@choc.org.

Meet Dr. Shireen Guide

CHOC Children’s wants its medical staff and patients to get to know its growing team of physicians, including primary and specialty care providers. Today, meet one of our specialists, Dr. Shireen Guide, a pediatric dermatologist.

Dr. Shireen Guide

Q: What is your education and training?

A: I trained at Stanford University Medical Center for both medical school and my internship. Subsequently, I completed my dermatology residency at University of Texas, Southwestern. I then went on to complete a pediatric dermatology fellowship at UC San Diego – Rady Children’s Hospital. I am board certified in both dermatology and pediatric dermatology and have been practicing in Orange County for the last 11 years.

Q: What are your special clinical interests?

A: I have a special interest in birthmarks and genetic conditions that are associated with specific skin manifestations. I also enjoy helping families better control chronic skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis and acne.

Q: What are some new developments within your specialty?

A: Developments in pediatric dermatology developments, such as safer biologics and better lasers for psoriasis, have led to improved treatment outcomes. Using dermatoscopic imaging modalities has provided the ability to better control margins and minimize scaring when we remove abnormal moles.

Q: What would you most like community providers to know about your division at CHOC?

A: Our pediatric dermatology clinic encompasses the evaluation of patient concerns regarding all hair, skin and nail conditions. We perform a variety of minor surgical excisions such as cyst, lipoma and birthmark removals. We also use minimal incision techniques which results in smaller scars while removing larger subcutaneous nodules or lesions.

Q: What inspires you most about the care being delivered at CHOC?

A: Our CHOC clinic allows us to help families with complicated medical conditions, minimal resources and limited access to specialty care.

Q: Why did you decide to get into the medical field?  

A: My father immigrated to America with minimal resources, and through his hard work and dedication, this country allowed him the opportunity to become a highly decorated military officer and a successful doctor. The value of education was instilled in me since childhood and I am very proud to have followed in my father’s medical footsteps.

Q: What have you learned from patients and families?

A: I have learned that patients want their doctors to listen to them and know their names, and involve families  as active partners in their care team.

Q: What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?

A: I enjoy playing the piano and spending time with my husband and three amazing children. We love to visit local zoos, museums and parks.